1st Session

S. J. RES. 3


May 5, 2003

Referred to the Committee on International Relations


Expressing the sense of the Congress with respect to human rights in Central Asia.

Whereas the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are providing the United States with assistance in the war in Afghanistan, from military basing and overflight rights to the facilitation of humanitarian relief;

Whereas in turn the United States victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan provides important benefits to the Central Asian nations by removing a regime that threatened their security and by significantly weakening the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a terrorist organization that had previously staged armed raids from Afghanistan into the region;

Whereas the United States has consistently urged the nations of Central Asia to open their political systems and economies and to respect human rights, both before and since the attacks of September 11, 2001;

Whereas Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are members of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), both of which confer a range of obligations with respect to human rights on their members;

Whereas while the United States recognizes marked differences among the social structures and commitments to democratic and economic reform of the Central Asian nations, the United States notes nevertheless, according to the State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, that all five governments of such nations, to differing degrees, restrict freedom of speech and association, restrict or ban the activities of human rights organizations and other non-governmental organizations, harass or prohibit independent media, imprison political opponents, practice arbitrary detention and arrest, and engage in torture and extrajudical executions;

Whereas by continuing to suppress human rights and to deny citizens peaceful, democratic means of expressing their convictions, the nations of Central Asia risk fueling popular support for violent and extremist movements, thus undermining the goals of the war on terrorism;

Whereas President George W. Bush has made the defense of human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women and private property, free speech, equal justice, religious tolerance strategic goals of United States foreign policy in the Islamic world, arguing that `a truly strong nation will permit legal avenues of dissent for all groups that pursue their aspirations without violence'; and

Whereas Congress has expressed its desire to see deeper reform in Central Asia in past resolutions and other legislation, most recently conditioning assistance to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan on their progress in meeting commitments to the United States on human rights and democracy: Now, therefore, be it

Passed the Senate May 1, 2003.